Published in Dhaka Tribune on Wednesday, 17 January 2018
Minimum wage for RMG workers: What do stakeholders think?
Minimum wage calculations must take into account some key factors such as number of dependent family members, food, housing, healthcare, children’s education and recreation
The newly formed wage board that was announced on Sunday for Ready Made Garments (RMG) workers should set their wages that allow room for savings.
In 2013, after the Rana Plaza disaster, the wage board set the minimum wage at Tk5,300 with a basic of Tk3,000 for entry-level garment workers with a 5% yearly increment on the basic.
The law stipulates that the new board has to finalize a new wage structure for the sector within six months after taking into consideration prices of essentials and other expenses of the workers.
Savings are crucial for RMG workers because they do not work under a pension scheme and their retirement benefits are very lower.
Almost every trade union leader, rights groups and RMG worker the Dhaka Tribune spoke to reiterated that the new wage board should consider savings into their new wage scheme.
Minimum wage calculations must take into account some key factors such as number of dependent family members, food, housing, healthcare, children’s education and recreation, they also opined.
The Dhaka Tribune spoke to a number of stakeholders about how the minimum wage should be structured for RMG workers as they contribute to the largest export industry in Bangladesh.
Khondaker Golam Moazzem
Research Director Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD)
Reaching an effective solution to set a perfect wage structure is very tough, as both the workers and owners start the negotiation from extreme view points. In order to reach a win-win agreement both parties need to be flexible at the start the negotiations.
While, another challenge is to have latest relevant data needed to calculate living expenses as well as the industry capacity.
Considering these aspects, there should a better idea of what the minimum wage should be. The number of family members and dependent should be taken into account, while they must have an opportunity to save a small amount.
While, production cost, price competitive edge and wages of other sectors need to be considered as unusual hike or lower amount in the RMG industry may create problems in other sectors.